Gaizka Garitano “We Want To Win And Finish The Year Well At San Mamés”

Gaizka Garitano

Gaizka Garitano says Athletic are full of confidence going into the Basque Derby (AC)

Following last weekend’s loss in Seville Athletic have only had one thing in mind. The Lions have been fully focused on winning Saturday’s Basque Derby against Eibar and are determined to take all three points at San Mamés. Speaking to the media ahead of the match, Gaizka Garitano shared that the team hasn’t lost any confidence after the defeat to Real Betis and are ready for a battle against Eibar.

“We are full of morale. If we lose a game it’s because something was done wrong and those things can be corrected. We have to continue as we have been and win again. That’s what we’re focused on. It’s not easy being at the top of the table. We are competing with teams in the Champions League and Europa League places, which shows our level, but every match is complicated.”

Due to his history with Eibar, Garitano was asked if he would be pleased with a draw in Saturday’s match. “I’m not one of those people, I only see the three points,” he immediately responded. “We want to win and finish the year well at San Mamés. It will be difficult for sure. It will be an intense match, with many duels and challenges. We have to be prepared. The important thing is to win and we will try to get that victory.”

Eibar have never beaten Athletic at San Mamés and their manager, José Luis Mendilibar, has also never won a game there with an opposing team. Garitano isn’t concerned with the past. “I don’t believe in statics or keep up with them,” he said firmly. “Mendilibar’s team has a very clear way of playing. We know their strengths and we expect the best our of ours.”

Eibar will be without several key players such as Fabián Orellano and Pape Diop, but Athletic are missing leaders as well. Iker Muniain, Aritz Aduriz, and Oscar De Marcos have all been ruled out of the game due to injuries, though Raúl García will make his return from suspension.

Gaizka Garitano Celta

“We have to continue as we have been and win again.” (AC)

“We all have losses. They could have beaten Getafe in their last game and they won’t be influenced by losing their last few games. Eibar doesn’t let you circulate the ball. They press you high and it’s uncomfortable. We will have to defend their wide players and deal with crosses into the box and set pieces.”

There was also concern that Yuri Berchiche could miss the game after sitting out of Thursday’s practice. “Yuri had some inconvenience but it’s been resolved,” explained Garitano. At the same time, Unai López was seen training as the attacking midfielder throughout the week and could start in that position with Beñat playing alongside Dani García. “We have casualties in some places on the field and we can adapt,” responded Garitano when asked about the possibility. “He (López) can play in either position.”

Athletic currently sit 6th in the La Liga table but could climb as high as 4th with a win over Eibar. The Zurigorri boast the best record at home in La Liga this season and are perfect in Basque Derbies with wins over Real Sociedad, Alavés, and Osasuna to this point. Eibar will be yet another test for Athletic, but Garitano and company are confident that they can keep all three points at the Cathedral.

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